Back pain is often dismissed as being nothing more than temporary muscle strain. Though statistically this is often the case, there are times when the true source of discomfort is damage to one or more of the bones of the spine. One such condition affecting the vertebrae is spondylolisthesis, where a vertebra eases forward and slips over the adjacent bone.
Causes and Contributing Factors
Spondylolisthesis is caused by an issue with the small joints (facet joints) located between each vertebra, which normally hold the bones of the spine in place. Possible problems with these joints can include:
- Genetic defects present at birth
- Damage from sudden trauma, such as a hard fall or blow
- Stress fractures from overuse
- Inflammatory conditions like arthritis
Signs and Symptoms
Pain resulting from spondylolisthesis can come on suddenly due to trauma, or it may develop over time. Difficulty walking due to weakness in the legs, leg or back pain aggravated by movements like bending or twisting, and radiating lower back and leg pain are all possible signs of spondylolisthesis. Loss of bladder control is a rare symptom, but one that requires immediate medical attention.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Image tests are used to confirm if a vertebra has slipped and where it is located. MRIs and CT scans can also determine if there are any fractures or cracks. Treatment for spondylolisthesis often involves:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Epidural steroid injections
- Physical therapy
- Core muscle strengthening
As with disc herniation, it’s possible to have a slipped vertebra with little or no pain. Some patients may experience related discomfort several months or years later as the vertebra shifts to a position where it compresses a nerve. Surgery, which may include spinal fusion or decompression, is rarely necessary for spondylolisthesis because most patients respond well to conservative treatments and lifestyle adjustments.
If you think you might have spondylolisthesis or another condition affecting your spine health, make sure to get checked out by top-rated spine surgeons in Beverly Hills. At The Spine Institute Center for Spinal Restoration, our team of professional surgeons can diagnose your condition and determine the best plan of action for alleviating your pain. To schedule an in-person consultation, please give us a call at 310-828-7757 today.